Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Kathleen Brown

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Prenatal alcohol-related disorders are highly prevalent and result in permanent, lifelong disabilities. The child may be born with debilitating birth deformities and severe cognitive deficits. These children have a low life expectancy, and a low quality of life. They are disproportionately represented in juvenile justice and foster homes, and they are more likely to be high school drop outs, incarcerated, or misdiagnosed, and have higher rates of mental illness. Despite these impairments, there are few state statutes in place that protect the rights of the fetus. This is because the fetus has not been recognized as a person. Feminist groups argue that if the fetus was granted personhood and rights, then women would be relegated to the inferior position of a fetal vessel. This paper addresses these concerns and advocates for state enforced mandatory rehabilitation for pregnant women who are addicted to substances. Mandatory rehabilitation has precedent and is a logical solution.

Additionally, this paper investigates the controversy of whether there is a safe dosage that can be consumed while pregnant that will not harm the fetus. While there is no safe dosage found, and women are strongly advised to understand that an unnecessary risk is involved with any prenatal alcohol consumption, there is a body of evidence suggesting that low-level drinking may not have a clinically significant effect on the fetus. Thus, women should be allowed, within the law, to make the choice to drink lightly during pregnancy, because it is not assaulting the fetus. By drinking prenatally, the woman chooses not to provide the most optimal intrauterine environment. However, the fetus is not entitled to an optimally pregnancy, but is entitled to a non-assaulted development

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.